Professional athletes – they are everywhere. From billboards, magazines and talk shows to social media accounts. They have taken center stage, becoming the face of their favourite snack, or even headlining huge events for charities and causes near and dear to their hearts.
While much of this seemingly endless (self) promotion is often seen as just “part of the gig”, I strive to have a bigger impact.
It gives me such pleasure to be able to share my passion and see it fuel the desires and vision of others!
I remember (the days before social media) when some local sports star would come talk to our school. I sat there in the gymnasium in awe of them. Their life seemed so perfect, and they likely could have told me anything in that moment – I was captivated with their every word.
Today, I’m on the other side of that exchange and I strive to make every word, moment and interaction really count. I find the most meaningful moments of giving back are when I see the excitement on people’s faces at public speaking events. It gives me such pleasure to be able to share my passion and see it fuel the desires and vision of others!
I’d like to share a story of how I was able to first connect with one of the many amazing organizations I proudly represent. When I first joined the Canadian National Team in 2011, I came across a logo that caught my attention. It was pink and white featuring the face of a girl wearing sunglasses and sporting some wicked pigtails. When I learned the name of the organization – Fast and Female – I was instantly hooked.
When I discovered it was a group dedicated to empowering women from the ages of 8-18 through sport (I was shocked to learn the age range of 8-14 is the most likely to quit sport!), I knew I wanted to help. After all, that was right around the time in my life when sport began to truly help drive my passion for success in life.
When I learned the name of the organization – Fast and Female – I was instantly hooked.
Without delay I had a sticker of the logo created and stuck it on my sled. As I raced around the world and was shown on TV standing at the line – that F&F logo began to get noticed and drum up more interest, including fuelling a proper connection with one of the original founders of F&F, Canadian Olympic Gold medalist in Cross-Country Skiing, Chandra Crawford.
Once Chandra and I chatted, I was 100% on board, and since that day I have continued to do everything I can to encourage and promote sports of ALL kinds to every girl (and boy) I meet. I speak to them in the smaller group or individual settings of Power Hours and love leading an activity or motivational groups in any of our larger events like the annual Summit (pictured).
I am fortunate to say that I have made meaningful connections everywhere I’ve gone. Community is paramount to me – while I was born and raised in Brandon, MB I have spent a number of years living in different provinces since I moved away in 2002 to attend university. Today, my career (both on and off the ice) literally takes me all over the world – and along these travels I am constantly meeting loads of truly incredible people. As I get to know these individuals and we share everything from stories and meals to their passions, hopes and dreams, I feel more and more connected to these unique places. Because of this connection, I strive, in real, tangible ways, to give back to the communities that have become like a home-away-from-home for me.
While I certainly see how my stories have the ability to inspire youth to go after their dreams, I can tell you it's their unbridled excitement and incredibly insightful questions that help me realize how I have the ability to make a difference in all my communities.